Mouse rant blog vent mouse.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Once more, sexism is crowding out common sense

This article from Salon is about weight and sperm counts, but there was this at the bottom that really caught my attention:

The new study is a reminder that doctors should always check a man for signs of infertility when couples are having trouble getting pregnant because the problem is just as likely to involve men as women.

"It's not uncommon for a man to come in after his wife has had a million tests'' and then discovered to have sperm problems, Thomas said. "It's probably one of the first things a doctor should do.''

See, I was under the impression that the first thing they do if a couple is having trouble conceiving was to test the man, because it's less invasive. It's like Car Talk's motto of start with the cheapest fix and work up. But apparently the imperatives to blame women first and to not have to push men into a doctor's office unless absolutely necessary come first.

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In a national health system, there might be pressure to do the cost-effective thing, but in our current fee-for-service system, infertile women are a profit center. They are generally far more concerned about infertility than their spouses, far more willing to come in and get tested, and there are far more tests available, most of which are complicated enough to generate procedure fees for the gynecologist.

For a man, you can charge for an office visit, and there is no primary provider procedure fee, since the procedure, if not done at home, is hand the guy a Playboy and a specimen cup, point him at a private room, and call the lab to pick up the resulting specimen.

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10/22/2004

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"... infertile women are a profit center. They are generally far more concerned about infertility than their spouses, far more willing to come in and get tested ..."

Indeed. I used to hang out on an infertility newsgroup. Tons of women, mostly severely unhappy about not being able to have kids, threads about things like how to cope with the monthly reminder that you're not pregnant, etc. And hardly any men. When we were putting together FAQs, and got to writing the one on male factors in infertility, it was me researching and writing it, and getting the material to another woman who would maintain it. So, even when it came to men's role in infertility, it was mostly women discussing it.

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Blogger Mary Garth said...

A grad student of mine in a seminar last spring was planning to do interview research with infertile couples. One of the things she mentioned in her literature review was that women often take the "blame" (socially) for infertility even when it has been determined that the problem is the man's problem (medically) because it's considered more of a stigma for a man to be infertile than a woman...

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Simple solutions are often overlooked in medicine, not just in the infertility field (though that is, truly, a giant cash cow). Two anecdotal examples: one, a couple who'd gone through a lot of expensive infertility testing (both of them), went to a different specialist. This guy went with the simplest solution, tested the woman's thyroid, gave her some medication to correct that imbalance, and bam, she got pregnant. The second example is that of a former co-worker who was having a lot of pain in his leg. He thought maybe he'd fractured it while running, but the orthopedist tested him for all kinds of other stuff, like bone infection or a parasite (he'd recently been in Southeast Asia). The tropical medicine specialist his orthopedist sent him to took an X-ray and said, "You have a broken leg."

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